At the beginning of our three weeks away, we headed to a familiar place, Suffolk, to be part of a ‘camp in’ at Great Barton Free Church. Their youth from ‘The Den’ were staying over and having a few days with us leading their workshops and activities that they were going to be involved with.
The theme was ‘Christmas’ which means that the whole building had Christmas decorations everywhere and we had a Christmas tree in the middle of the stage. It felt slightly bizarre hearing Christmas songs again in February!
The idea for these few days was that they would write, record and perform a song together. They were a group of roughly 35 children and their ages ranged between around 9 – 13. It was a slightly younger group to what we are used to working with, however, that didnt stop us from having a brilliant time and our eyes were opened to how talented these young people were at such a young age!!
Due to the circumstances back home, I took a few days off at the beginning of the week to spend with my family, but I was convinced I wanted to be back with Taste by Wednesday so I didn’t completely miss out! I arrived after they had written the words to the song, and Andy played us all the song first thing on Wednesday and it sounded brilliant! The song was all about Friendship, and they had named it Promise.
We kick started Wednesday with a quick go on Just Dance to warm us and wake us all up! After breakfast we had a ‘Den Factor’ where we were able to hear the abilities we had in the group. The ones that performed were all brilliant! Some of them, as little as 11 were so confident and completely blew me away with their voice. It was excellent.
They then had to learn the song. The chorus was going to have everyone singing on it, so we recorded them all at the same time singing the chorus for the various parts of the song. From the singers who had ‘auditioned’ for us, we grouped them up and chose them for singing parts of the verses.
I was then in charge of making sure that the verse singers knew their lines and were confident and comfortable knowing what they were doing for when it came to their turn to record. It gave me a chance to get to know some of them better too which was ace. They were excellent at their parts and the verses sounded really good on the recording!
Another cool thing that happened to me that afternoon was during the free time, they stuck Nativity 2 on in the main hall, encouraging them to watch it. In one of the smaller rooms I stumbled across 2 of the slightly older girls, who weren’t massively interested in the film. We started talking about our favourite childrens programmes from growing up but somehow it led us into talking about my faith. One girl asked what being a Christian means, to which the other one replied that you have to believe in God. The first one then made a comment saying she didnt need to go to church to be a Christian, and I began to share the importance of realising that Christianity is so much more than just believing in God. I told them it was about a relationship with God, and said it might sound weird, but I talk to God just like you two, as friends, talk to each other. Then one of them piped up with ‘I know I just find it hard to believe in God when he lets such horrible things happen everywhere’. I took this opportunity to share a little bit about what had happened to me this week, how horrible things happen in our lives but I don’t want to blame God, i use that horrible situation to ask God for help and strength and that;s what he gives to me. They really listened as I shared. They then asked whether there were any experiences where I have really seen that God is real, and I told them the story about how I prayed to God about receiving the money for Taste last year, and how I gave the situation to God and said if he wanted me to do it, then let there be a way it could happen. I said how the money flooded in and I really felt it was God providing it for me.
I couldn’t believe the opportunity I had been given that day, and I thank God for that conversation. Although it was cut short and one of the girls left that night which meant we couldnt continue, I really believe that God used me there and I am excited for what he has already begun in their lives.
Once all the parts had been recorded for the song, we got dressed up and ready for our Christmas dinner! Followed by their very own Taste concert, where we re-introduced the Christmas Medley which was brilliant fun! They loved the concert and as I introduced Always, I shared a bit of my testimony about how I have found that God is always with us no matter what we face. Becky also shared her testimony there too.
Thursday was our final day there, and the tiredness levels all around were very high! But today was performance day so after our routine of Just Dance and breakfast, we cracked on with rehearsals for the showing of the song. It meant organising various positions for them to stand in and making sure they have their words right. They did a brilliant job because it probably wasnt the most fun in the world as they needed to keep going through it, but they kept going and did a fantastic job.
Their parents arrived at around 5pm, and we had an awards ceremony with prizes for the star camper and us as Taste received some delicious chocolates as a thank you for all we had done! We presented the young people with their copy of the CD which they had decorated themselves and we shook their hands (or high-fived them!) to say well done for the effort they had put in!
Their performance went really well, and we were so pleased with all that they did to cooperate and put on a good show! They even did it again as an encore! The parents loved it and the evening was a great success!
I had a really good time there with them that week, and want to thank God for the way he worked through me in my weakness to speak to those people and share Gods love this week!